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Paris on Two Wheels: Leading the Race?

Since the first lockdown, Paris has become the test site for an ambitious cycling project, rolling out new infrastructure and remapping its transport routes. It is not the only European city where pop-up cycle paths have appeared, almost overnight, but in some cases they have not remained in place for long. Prospects for the changes to become permanent features are threatened by competing interests, however, calling into question whether the city will succeed in generating a long-term shift in transport habits.

There was a time when cycling was considered an adventure sport in Paris. Cyclists meandered through gaps in between cars, past stinking exhaust pipes, crowded against the narrow pavement until the next traffic light.

Leo, 23, had long scorned the bicycle in Paris. The young professional lives in a suburb. For his first job, he cycles daily across the French capital. He manages the 30 kilometer route in 45 minutes.

For many years, Leo only used his bike during holidays. On two wheels he toured from Paris to Amsterdam and the Atlantic. For a good two years now, he has also completely renounced the train and the car in Paris. On the first few kilometers of his daily route, in the south of Paris, he is still one of the few on a bicycle: “At the city limits, the bicycle lane disappears for a while. The Coronapiste starts at the Luxembourg Garden. This is what we call the new cycle track in Paris”.

Paris is unrecognisable. Those who still leave home for work during lockdown these days meet commuters everywhere in their jackets on two wheels. The urban rental bikes in striking green mingle with silver city bikes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Paris Erupts into Protests Against Macron & Lockdowns

Today in Paris, many thousands of “yellow vests” took to the streets to demonstrate against French President Emmanuel Macron and the French government over its draconian lockdowns and CORONA restrictions. This was a massive riot where police not only used tear gas and batons, they were firing both rubber bullets and live ammunition. These lockdowns are by no means about taking care of people. This is raw tyranny and we will see if they even stand for election in 2021/2022.

The next French Presidential election will begin Friday, April 8, 2022. What is interesting is when we look at the Quarterly Array on the French CAC-40, it is clearly showing the first quarter will be very volatile. This is clearly the impact of the French elections and there is a deep concern that Macron will even suspend the elections under the pretense of a national emergency as we saw in New Zealand. The protests of the “yellow vests” against Macron began back in November 2018. They were initially triggered by rising fuel prices and a pension reform plan. We are looking at sheer political chaos in France as the elections will come 43 months from the beginning of these protests (50% of 86).

France Paralyzed By Largest General Strike In Decades

France Paralyzed By Largest General Strike In Decades

In what appears to be the biggest disruption to French society since the gilets jaunes demonstrators nearly torched Paris last year, public workers across the country stayed home on Thursday, immobilizing public transit across the country as the first general strike in more than 20 years began.

The walkout was called by unions angry at President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms (not unlike how a planned – then scrapped – gas tax hike sparked the giles jaunes).

On the fist day of the strike, parts of Paris resembled a ghost town during what are typically busy morning-commute hours. Roads were empty, and train stations were deserted, according to the Times of London.

The biggest industrial action of Macron’s tenure is, so far, staggering in scale: 50% of French teachers are off work, nine out of ten trains were cancelled and eleven of the fourteen underground lines in Paris are closed. A total of 245 separate demonstrations have been announced across France as students, firefighters, healthcare workers and others joining in. Strikes at Air France forced a wave of flight cancellations, leaving thousands of travelers scrambling for a workaround. Air France cancelled 30% of its domestic flights and 10% of international short- and medium-haul flights on Thursday, RT reports.

Millions of workers are staying home. 

In Paris, some resorted to bikes, skateboards or walking in the bitter cold as 90% of the trains in the country were closed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yellow Vests Protests Rock Paris For 21st Consecutive Week 

Yellow Vests Protests Rock Paris For 21st Consecutive Week 

Icebergs and bankers

Icebergs and bankers 

On Saturday March 16, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Paris demanding action on climate change.  At the same time and not far away, a group of gilets jaunes protestors were demonstrating, sometimes violently, against the economic policies of President Macron—one of which increased the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. This was intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the transport sector and help France meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.  

Something is wrong here.  Both groups of protesters agree that climate change is a problem that needs to be urgently tackled, but they disagree vehemently about how this should be done. 

Pricing carbon is a delicate instrument that needs to be wielded with care. Either Macron doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care. Either way his policies to reduce carbon emissions are incredibly cack-handed.

Increasing taxes that push up the price of gasoline and diesel fuel is likely to be unpopular almost everywhere that people drive vehicles, and where agricultural produce and goods are delivered by road.  Which is to say just about everywhere in North America and Europe.

There is only one way to sweeten this bitter pill and that is to make carbon pricing revenue neutral. Households are compensated for the additional costs they will incur paying for fuel, and receive a modest annual payment–ideally in advance. 

End of the month, end of world. Same people responsable, same fight

In some places, communities will swallow this pill and grin and bear it.  But this requires a widespread understanding of the urgency of climate action and a willingness to pay the price of being a polluter–which in fact is what all of us who operate a gasoline or diesel vehicle actually are.  But in many jurisdictions, and obviously in France, an increase in the price of fuel is going to be met with strong resistance.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yellow Vest Movement Not Yet Changing Its Color to Green

Yellow Vest Movement Not Yet Changing Its Color to Green

From Paris, Léa Bouchoucha reports for Consortium News on two sets of demonstrators, some of whom are mingling while others keep a distance. 

Some had hoped the two marches in Paris last Saturday— one focused on global warming and the other representing the 18th straight weekend of Yellow Vest protests  — would join forces and help unite environmental activism with social equity. 

On March 8, Cyril Dion, a well-known documentary film maker and environmental writer, gave a joint interview to Le Parisian with Priscillia Ludosky, considered one of the founders of the Yellow Vest movement, in which they  both encouraged protesters to march together.

To an extent that happened. Yellow vests were a common sight in the climate demonstrations on Saturday. And nongovernmental groups — Greenpeace France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, SOS Racisme, Friends of the Earth, 350.org and Alternatiba — voiced a fusion of environmental and economic demands. “Time to change industrial, political and economic systems, to protect the environment, society and individuals,” was a typical message expressed on one banner.

Participants at climate march included a "Revolutionary Grandmother" at left. (Lea Bouchoucha)

The climate march included a “Revolutionary Grandmother” at left. (Lea Bouchoucha)

The contrasts between the two demonstrations, however, wound up drawing the main press attention.Coverage by outlets such as Reuters and the Associated Press emphasized how the march on climate change — which drew around 45,000 in Paris, according to media estimates — was peaceful and included movie stars. The smaller Yellow Vest demonstration in the capital, estimated at around 10,000, was marked by rioting and vandalism.

Some Yellow Vests disagree with violence in demonstrations. But plenty of images have spread on social media that show a few protesters posing proudly in front of vandalized, expensive restaurants and luxury shops along the Champs-Elysées Avenue.

A strong majority of French — 84 percent of those polled — condemned the violence in a survey released March 20 by Elabe, an independent consultancy.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France To Deploy Military Against Next Round Of Yellow Vest Protests

France To Deploy Military Against Next Round Of Yellow Vest Protests

If the black smoke over the Paris skyline and charred cars and buildings along the Champs-Elysees which have become characteristic of France’s increasingly violent Yellow Vest protests over the past months weren’t alarming enough, things look to get much worse as the government prepares to escalate

In an effort to clamp down on the unraveling security situation, which has lately seen banks and residential buildings torched, and luxury stores and restaurants vandalized and destroyed, the French authorities have announced the deployment of anti-terrorism military forces in order to protect and secure public buildings. Protesters walk by burning cars during clashes with riot police on the sideline of a protest of Gilets jaunes against rising oil prices and living costs, via AFP

Following the worsening protest situation of the past weekend (after a brief lull at the end of President Macron’s failed ‘great debate’ initiative which pushed town halls to air grievances), which nearly turned deadly for random civilians caught in the mayhem of rioters clashing with police, the government will redirect counter-terror troops from Opération Sentinelle to focus on Yellow Vest related threats

Opération Sentinelle began after the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks (the series of al-Qaeda linked terrorist acts that began with the Charlie Hebdo shooting) and resulted in some 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes deployed at sensitive sites and public buildings across the country. 

According to Bloomberg, French authorities have sought to calm the obvious and immediate fears raised that the move constitutes the government taking a full martial law approach of sending the military against its own people.  Opération Sentinelle forces

Following a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux pointed to the “new forms of violence”Saturday which he said justifies deploying the counter-terror forces. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Watch Live: Yellow Vests Rage For 11th Straight Week; Organizers Plan Night Rallies, Human Chain Of 50,000

Watch Live: Yellow Vests Rage For 11th Straight Week; Organizers Plan Night Rallies, Human Chain Of 50,000

France’s Yellow Vests are out again en masse – taking to the streets of Paris and other cities across the country for the 11th straight week of anti-government protests despite rainy conditions. 

Embedded video

#GiletsJaunes protest: #Toulon

– 11th Saturday of #YellowVests in France
– Protest against Rothschild Macron government, high climate change taxes, new labor laws

Once again, the tear gas flew as protesters clashed with police – as documented by journalist Sotiri Dimpinoudis

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France’s Protests: Why It’s Different This Time

France’s Protests: Why It’s Different This Time

When the first demonstrations on the streets of Paris were reported nine weeks ago, nobody could have foreseen the endurance, the tenacity and the viral effect of the Yellow Vests movement. After all, the French are known to protest and to strike, it’s part and parcel of their culture. However, by the time this article is being written, protests, marches and demonstrations have broken out in a multitude of European cities.

Why Was it Different this Time?

To begin with, it is worth taking a closer look at the situation in France, the point of origin of this “contagion.” There are a few very important elements that set the Yellow Vests apart from past protests. For one thing, unlike previous demonstrations, this one wasn’t led by the unions, nor was it organized by any identifiable political body. The protesters had no unified or homogenous political beliefs, party affiliations or ideological motivations. In fact, through interviews and public statements of individuals taking part in the demonstrations, it would appear that any organized elements, or members of the far-left or the far-right were a slim minority among the protesters. And while those few were the ones largely involved in the violent clashes with the police and the destruction of private and public property, the crushing majority of the Yellow Vests were peaceful, non-violent and largely unaffiliated with any particular political direction.

As the movement grew and spread, many political figures have tried to co-opt it, without success. Front National’s Le Pen, hardline leftist Melenchon, far-left factions and various union leaders, all tried to place their flag on the Yellow Vests, claiming that they align with and can represent their grievances. They all failed.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It’s A Reunion For People Who Broke The World”: Author Explains Why Davos Should Be Cancelled

Paris is burning, a large chunk of the US federal government is shut down and Britain is careening toward a delay of Article 50 – or possibly a second referendum – as the Brexit process descends into chaos, calls for the World Economic Forum to cancel its annual conference in Davos, a notorious rendezvous for the world’s financial and political elite, are growing louder. Particularly after Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and now Theresa May have all decided to skip the conference this year to attend to their respective crises.

While these demands from a frustrated public might seem baffling to the global elites who see Davos as an opportunity for less-fortunate emerging economies to “pitch” themselves in an effort to attract more FDI, one former New York Times columnist and the author of a new book that explores the causes of the surge in populism sweeping the Western world offered a surprisingly articulate and trenchant explanation for why people across the west are “mad as hell”, and, furthermore, what role the average Davos attendee played in bringing our society to this point.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Anand Giridharadas placed the blame on plutocrats like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for helping to “break the world” with ruthless corporate agendas that helped monopolize political power in the hands of the elite…leaving the rest of the population with deep-seated feelings of frustration as the usual avenues of social mobility have been closed, and people feel more powerless to change their future.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

FREXIT? The “Gilets Jaunes” will Not Let Go

FREXIT? The “Gilets Jaunes” will Not Let Go

Will France, under Macron – Implosion 2 – become a candidate for exiting the EU thanks to the Yellow Vests?

The “Gilets Jaunes” will not let go. Not even – or especially not – after Macron‘s half-hearted, rather cynical and grandstanding concessions – of “too little and too late” – which when analyzed constitute a new lie, especially regarding the increase of the minimum wage. It was clear from his face, these concessions, of a President who campaigned on the basis of “never make any concessions”, were fake, as fake as his fake attitude of an apologist could be. Even without listening to his words, his body language of arrogance gives him away.

This past weekend, on Saturday, 15 December, another more than 100,000 Yellow Vests were marching on Paris; countrywide some 200,000. The police to oppress them, as officially reported, was about the same as the weekend before, 8,000 in Paris, close to 90,000 throughout France. Military assistance was not missing. Besides, in a state of emergency, who distinguished between police and military?

Interestingly, the international press – the MSM – is taking it seriously. Why? They fear that this relentless movement may spread to other countries, even countries beyond Europe – like “Trump Land”, the United States of America. And why not. The same malaise of capital being shifted upwards to the detriment of the poor and middle class exists everywhere, may even be most pronounced in the US, but nobody talks about it and pays attention to it, lest the people would have awakened to the growing disparity long ago – and taken to the streets massively – within the inner circles of the Washington Belt Way.

Chapeau to the French. Although their forefathers were among the most vicious and miserable exploiters,  in human history – when they ravaged for hundreds of years West Africa – and the elite still does, unbeknown even to (most) of the Yellow Vets.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France’s Ghosts of ’68: General Strike vs. Macron and the Technocrat Elites

France’s Ghosts of ’68: General Strike vs. Macron and the Technocrat Elites

The Paris elites and their enablers may find that the next general strike won’t immobilize Paris, it will strangle Paris from the periphery.
Eleven months ago, I posited in The Ghosts of 1968 (2/14/18) that the idealistic hope that mass demonstrations could trigger real reform had expired. The mass demonstrations of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in 2018 dramatically reinvigorated the topic.
I don’t see the yellow vest uprising as idealistically fueled; it’s fueled by desperation and what Francis Fukuyama termed the working classes’ “perception of invisibility” in a recent essay (Against Identity Politics (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2018), a view echoed by French geographer / author Christophe Guilluy who said that “the French people are using the gilets jaunes to say we exist.
Guilluy: “Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.
One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.”
Interviewer: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?
Guilluy: “All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

French Police Brace for Fifth Wave of Yellow Vest Protests

France is set to deploy tens of thousands of police and gendarmes across the country on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, to deal with a fifth weekend of Yellow Vest protests – just days after three people were killed and 13 injured after a mass shooting in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said authorities are on watch for “violent groups” infiltrating the protests, and that riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the presidential palace, reports Reuters.

We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” Delpuech told RTL radio, who added that he doesn’t expect businesses in the capital to suffer the same level of disruption as they have over the past three weeks, when major stores and hotels suffered a dramatic drop in business as tourists avoided the area.

This weekend’s Yellow Vest protests, nicknamed “Acte V” – mark the fifth week of anti-government outrage which began over opposition to an announced fuel-tax designed to pay for climate change policies.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the Yellow Vests to tone down their protests and acknowledge that they had achieved their goals after French President Emmanuel Macron rolled out a series of economic and tax incentives, including a minimum wage hike, no tax on overtime pay, tax-free year-end bonuses, and a six month delay to the fuel tax.

While most French people polled by Odoxa said they found Macron’s proposal “satisfactory,” 59% of those polled say they were “not convinced” by the measures.

54% of those surveyed said the Yellow Vest protests should continue.

Many of the Yellow Vests have flat-out rejected Macron’s proposals, according to European-Views.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France In Chaos; Macron Considers State Of Emergency Amid “Yellow Vest” Protests; “All Options” Considered

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting of senior ministers on Sunday following the worst unrest Paris has seen in a decade on Saturday. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France’s Europe 1 radio that a state of emergency may be imposed to prevent “serious outbursts of violence” after thousands of masked “Yellow Vest” protesters fought with police, and set fires to cars, houses and banks.

Embedded video

The Jeu de Paume – one of best art galleries in Paris – is on fire. A mob is storming through the Tuleries Garden.

Griveaux said that around 1,000 and 1,500 protesters joined Saturday’s demonstrations “only to fight with the police, to break and loot,” and that the violent element “have nothing to do with the yellow vests” (aside from wearing yellow vests?).

Demonstrators on Saturday were filmed destroing a police van and other vehicles, while other videos showed burning cars and police firing tear gas to break up the protests.

The reported size of the protest has varied between 36,000 and 75,000 yellow vests, while last week saw over 110,000 protesters at the Champs-Elysées in central Paris. Over 400 arrests were made and 113 injured in Saturday’s unrest which began three weeks ago over a hike in diesel taxes, but has grown to a general protest of Macron and his government. Macron’s popularity rating has plummeted to just 26%, while opinion polls for the 2019 parliament elections predict that right-wing Marine Le Pen’s Nationall Rally party will be level – or far ahead – from Macron’s La République En Marche.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism Was Never about Free Markets

Neoliberalism Was Never about Free Markets

From the beginning, it was about watering down classical liberalism.

One of the most accusatory and negative words currently in use in various politically “progressive” circles is that of “neoliberalism.” To be called a “neoliberal” is to stand condemned of being against “the poor,” an apologist for the “the rich” and a proponent of economic policies leading to greater income inequality.

The term is also used to condemn all those who consider the market economy to be the central institution of human society as being against “community,” shared caring, and concern for anything beyond supply and demand. A neoliberal, say critics, is one who reduces everything to market-based dollars and cents and disregards the “humane” side of mankind.

The opponents of neoliberalism, so defined, claim that its proponents are rabid, “extremist” advocates of laissez-faire, that is, a market economy unrestrained by government regulations or redistributive fiscal policies. It calls for the return of the worst features of the “bad old days” before socialism and the interventionist-welfare state attempted to abolish or rein in unbridled “anti-social” capitalism.

The Birth of Neoliberalism: Walter Lippmann and a Paris Conference

He warned of the complementary danger from “creeping collectivism” in the form of the regulatory and interventionist policies.

The historical fact is that these descriptions have little or nothing to do with the origin of neoliberalism, or what it meant to those who formulated it and its policy agenda.  It all dates from about eighty years ago, with the publication in 1937 of a book by the American journalist and author, Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), entitled, An Inquiry into the Principles of the Good Society, and an international conference held in Paris, France in August of 1938 organized by the French philosopher and classical liberal economist, Louis Rougier, centered around the themes in Lippmann’s book. A transcript of the conference proceedings was published later in 1938 (in French) under the title, Colloquium Walter Lippmann.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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